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America Might Be Headed Into An STD Epidemic and Gay and Bi Men Will Be Hit The Hardest

STD Epidemic

Data collected from 2012 to 2015 indicated that there are same-sex-attracted men were using PrEP to prevent HIV infection. Though this is the case, there was an increase in urethral Chlamydia and rectal gonorrhea cases. There is evidence showing that gay and bi men using PrEP are engaging in condomless sex and this means that they should be alarmed as far as the STD epidemic is concerned.

This news came on the heels of a recent STD Surveillance Report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention which showed that the total combined cases of gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and syphilis reported in the U.S. in 2015 reached record highs. Those most at risk were gay and bisexual men (regardless of their PrEP status), as well as the youth of America: Young adults aged 15 to 24 accounted for half the gonorrhea diagnoses and two-thirds of the Chlamydia cases. Men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for the majority of new gonorrhea and syphilis cases. And all this while strains of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea were recently discovered to be on the rise among MSM.”

It seems like there are many people in the gay community who are living in open sexual relationships. This might be the reason why this community is headed to a major STD epidemic. You might be wondering whether this is accurate information and if the gay community is to blame for the STD trend. Well, the right answer might be a complex one but fighting the increase of STD cases should start with understanding what is fueling it.

But while the CDC’s explanation about budget cuts and clinic closures makes sense on a national scale, I have a sneaking suspicion that there had to be more to it than that for MSM. Within the gay and bi male community, I’ve recently noticed a lax attitude about contracting STDs on the part of some guys. The logic is something like: They’re treatable (for now), they’re not HIV, and they’re just kind of part of the sexual territory, so no biggie. Many gay men I know live in big cities that, for the moment, offer access to cheap or free testing and treatment—an unfortunately uncommon situation, as the CDC points out. To be honest, I personally don’t worry too much about STDs when I’m having sex. So perhaps we really are to blame for our own predicament?

“Yes, there are people who are less concerned about bacterial infections. We take antibiotics for a lot of reasons, and sexual health issues are one of them. I think there are some people who kind of anticipate, because of STI rates in certain communities, having an infection and they aren’t caught off guard when it happens,” Joshua O’Neal, the director of sexual health at San Francisco AIDS Foundation.”

Clinics are admitting that they are treating a significant number of people on PrEP who have other STDs. Some of these people are not necessarily dealing with symptoms; it’s just that their current or former partners have informed them of positive STD results. According to the CDC;

San Francisco has the highest number of LGBTQ residents per capita in the country; however, California ranked 17th in the country for Chlamydia, 14th for gonorrhea, and third for syphilis. STDs are still a problem in California, but there are states with far worse situations. Louisiana, for example, ranked first for gonorrhea, with 221.1 people infected per 100,000, and first for syphilis with 15.0 people per 100,000. Alaska was ranked No. 1 for Chlamydia, with 768.3 people infected per 100,000, followed by Louisiana and North Carolina.”

Patricia Kissinger, a professor with the Department of Epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in Louisiana says that sex education is left to parents due to the conservative nature in the Delta South.

Young people in the state don’t have the basic knowledge to protect themselves. They don’t know where to get a condom, how to use it, or even why they would need to use it.”

The HIV/STD program manager with the Alaska Department of Health, Susan Jones, highlights the conservative nature of the area.

In Alaska, HB 156 recently become law, which allows parents the right to direct the education of a child as it relates to sex education, human reproductive education, and human sexuality education, among other things. The bill doesn’t prevent the teaching of these subjects, but the curriculum, literature, or materials have to be approved by the district’s school board and available for parental review. I think it’s safe to assume that the resulting sex education wouldn’t be a liberal, sex-positive one.

In the Surveillance Report, the CDC highlights the necessity to mobilize, rebuild, and expand services to combat this epidemic and bolster prevention efforts. However, decisions about sex-ed curriculum are made by state and local school districts; the CDC doesn’t mandate specific sexual health education curricula. In some cases, they provide funding, tools, and technical assistance to state and local education agencies along with select NGOs for sex education activities, but the terms of how those are utilized vary state by state. Each state or local agency will decide what sort of programming they want to offer.”

The problem might not be the gay community; it might be the fact that sex education is not being encouraged. People are not talking about their sex life and this might be preventing the elimination of the stigma involved. When people talk about sex, it is easy to deal with everything that comes with it including the infections.

So when considering the STD uptick in the U.S. from a bird’s eye view, it isn’t really the urban gays, with their Grindr and PrEP and their sex-positivity/pleasure-first attitudes, which are driving the jump. Nor is it bored, rural youth purposefully being irresponsible with their sex lives. Not entirely, anyway. The real problem is the conservative legislators and parents in red states who are perpetuating this epidemic. And their fear and morality-based policy costs the health care system nearly $16 billion each year, according to the CDC, as STDs cause economic liabilities when undiagnosed and untreated.”

It is important to note that getting tested often when you are sexually active will go a long way in curbing the STD epidemic. Stopping the spread also involves responsible sexual behavior and awareness. People need to know how they can get infected and how they can prevent different STDs. For those living with life-long STDs, using an STD dating site might be a great idea. This is free of stigma, and rejection based on STD statuses. You will meet positive singles who are looking for someone like you and you will not have to explain your status and not have to worry about spreading the STD further.

source: This content firts appeared on America May Be Heading Into an STD Epidemic—and Gay and Bi Men Are Going to Be the Hardest Hit

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